It is more than a year since the devastating July and August 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected about 20 million people and killed an estimated 2,000. Many believe that the disaster was partially fuelled by global warming, and that there is a real danger that Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent in general, could become the focus of much more regular catastrophic flooding.
Indeed, right now Pakistan is again experiencing massive flooding. The UN asserts that, already, more than 5.5 million people have been affected and almost 4300 are officially reported dead, 100 of them children.
Last year’s calamity, in particular, highlights the vulnerability of much of Asia to climate change, and has helped elevate this into one of the most important and pressing political and social issues in the region. Indeed, an increasingly prevailing view is that the impact of climate change could be worse in the region than all previous social, health and conflict disasters of the past.
In particular, there is growing recognition that global warming is dangerously linked to several significant threats, including not just natural disasters, but also energy, water, and food shortages as average rising temperatures reduce productivity and agricultural land is threatened by sea level rises and salinification of coastal areas.